Hostel residents living in squalor

2009-12-30 00:00

LIVING conditions at East Street Hostel have deteriorated so badly over the years that its residents are living in squalor.

Residents who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity said they have complained to the Human Settlements Department numerous times and held countless meetings, but their grievances seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

The hostel buildings have fallen into decay because no maintenance or major repairs are being undertaken. The residents say they are at their wits’ end.

“There’s no hot water, the pipes are blocked and no one cleans, so some of us are forced to clean our areas because we can’t take the filth; but we can only do so much,” said one complainant.

When The Witness went to the hostel to assess the situation, the residents’ complaints were confirmed.

Uncut verges, walls stained black with dirt, piles of litter and a general lack of maintenance are just some of the problems identified during a walkabout.

The stench from the toilets is almost too much to bear. “They’re not cleaned. When we complained we were told that there were no cleaning materials with which to clean them,” said a dweller.

Residents say they have been complaining for more than three years by sending letters to the department’s Natalia office, but not once have they had a response.

They often have to deal with snakes in the long grass, while refuse removal has ground to a halt. “We have to take out our own rubbish and sometimes even cut the grass because they only cut it once a year. We are being neglected and it makes us very sad. We don’t know what to do anymore,” said a resident.

They said the hostel’s superintendent has also tried to assist, but has been stonewalled by the department.

Numerous attempts to get comment from the department’s media liaison officer, Nkululeko Ngcamu, were unsuccessful and he failed to respond to messages left on his cellphone by the time of going to print.

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